In Conversation: Tiefschwarz & Silky
Timo Maas’s Rockets & Ponies imprint has returned after its sellout Moby “Porcelain” remix package kicking off its 10th year with two originals by James Teej & Silky and a massive remix from Tiefschwarz.
Here, Silky, another globe-trotting DJ/producer who gains constant support from the likes of Ame and Dixon, and Tiehfschwarz go “In Conversation” on the release and more!
“get out and explore”
Silky: Hey Ali & Basti, it’s a pleasure to meet you both. i’ve been a big fan of your work for many years now and was very excited to hear from Timo Maas that you guys were doing the remix for mine and James Teej’s new single Illuminated Cabaret on Rockets and Ponies. I’m sure you get so many remix requests all the time, and I remember you remixing some of the greats like Masters at Work, Cassius, Groove Armada etc.
What was it about Illuminated Cabaret that attracted you to being involved?
Tiefschwarz: Hey Uttam, the pleasure is also on our side :)
We’re happy that you like our stuff throughout the years..! and guess what we were also very excited when we got the remix-request from Timo.
Remixing always was and still is one of our biggest pleasures and we did have so much fun working on the remix for you guys – we guess you can definitely hear it in the result – we re super-happy with it ;)
Our remix history was quite a ride so far – from big names like Madonna to Depeche Mode etc to real underground acts to friends – but its always the music that counts..! Concerning your track it was the combination – first your original track and second Timo, who is a friend of ours since a long time :) so we agreed on doing it right away.
We’re big fans of LA – we’re really love Silverlake, Venice Beach etc etc. its always such a pleasure to spend time there and also to play..! We also love the vibe of the parties – so how does it feel to live there full time..?
At one point it would be great to spend some time there so maybe you can give us a little bit of Californian-advice – one thing I know for sure is that whithout a car it won t work ;)
Silky: I moved here around 4 years ago from London, where I’m born and raised. I had been touring in the states for the best part of the last 10 years, however everytime I came to LA I always felt like my stay here was never enough and I wanted to explore more. So around 4 years ago, I packed up and decided to take the move! I actually live in an area called Marina Del Rey which is right next to Venice Beach. Although I do like Silverlake and those areas, moving all the way here from London I really wanted to be by the beach. The weather is always amazing all year round, living here is more expensive than London, however there are so many great outdoor activities to do. I’ve realised how much weather affects my productivity, I’m so much more focused, and I feel like life can be lived here. I get up early every morning, eat some healthy food and start working in my studio and around mid afternoon-ish, I take some time out to do something healthy like hiking, surfing etc. I feel this keeps me sane and in a good working environment.
Over the years, since my first gig playing for the Incognito guys back 10 years ago, I’ve seen the underground music scene here develop, and now it’s crazy! There are so many great promoters and DJ’s here. Underground music is definitely more exposed than what it used to be and there is something going on pretty much every night. Some promoters are taking the plunge into more risky underground acts which I think is fantastic. The only bad thing I think is that the public transport sucks and everything is spread out, so you do need a car. Although you can always take Uber ;). For day to day stuff you can normally see me riding my bike everywhere!!
My bit of Californian advice would be, to get out and explore, there are amazing hikes with ridiculous views which are so amazing and inspiring, beaches like El Matador which are very picturesque, but bring two things; sunscreen for the day, and a jacket for night. It can sometimes get cold! (For LA standards) haha.
So about the remix! I remember both Timo and James calling me right away on the phone when you guys were confirmed. We were all buzzing! Shortly after, I heard the remix and it is fire!! You guys did such an incredible job whilst still staying true to the original song and elements.
I wanted to know who is in charge of what in the studio? Do you guys have different skills sets that you both bring to the table? I would love to hear how you guys go about remixing something like Illuminated Cabaret.
Tiefschwarz: We hope we’ll get the chance to spend some more time in California / LA at one point, not only the “In and Out game” as most of the time ;)and we are both big hiking fans – so lets do it together at one point!
Regarding your next question, since quite some time now we’re sharing our studio with our friend and colleague Julian Ganzer aka Yawk (he’s also running the “Studio Kreuzberg“ label) and at one point we decided to also work together as a team – so he was actually fully involved in production process of the remix for you guys. He’s an amazing producer and we’re really enjoying working with him as a trio at the moment.
Basti’s true passion is drumming, so he loves to play around with drum-machines etc and also in playing live e-drums or percussions in the studio. We have also changed our set-up a little bit – instead of using a lot of plug-ins and working only in the computer (we’re still using some of course) we moved back to use way more analogue gear – we’re having so much fun by recording long live-analog-sessions of our machines and keyboards selecting the best parts, and add them to the structure in Ableton.
For the remix we basically used (analog) Jupiter 8, MK 80, Doepfer Dark Time, MFB Tanzbaer, Virus B, Roland TR 8 and (digital) Xils-lab-plugins, Sonalksis, Arturia plugins and several delays+effects. So its mainly Basti and Julian at the controls and me, Ali – as i have quite a bit of stamina when it comes to arranging, sound-designing and production details to complete the trio – working on the remix.
So tell us a little bit about your work process with James and about your relationship with Timo?
Silky: Hiking and In and Out are the done things here. So count me in for both!!
Wow, that’s great that all you guys have your individual roles. The dynamic speaks for itself as the remix is super hot!
So, I met James almost about 10 years ago I think. I was booked to play Toronto by Nitin (No.19 Music) who used to promote events there and James was on the bill with me. This was prior to him joining My Favorite Robot but we got on really well and became good friends. It was around this time where I got to know Jared and Voytek from My Favorite Robot also.
I used to live in London at the time, but I literally saw James and the rest of the guys all the time around the world and we all hung out together. Shortly after James joined My Favorite Robot making the duo into a trio and that was when we collborated on our first record which was Shout. Actually Voytek and I wrote it first in London and when Jared and James heard it, they jumped on and made it into what it is!
A couple of years later. James was at my home in London, and this is when we actually wrote the Illuminated Cabaret EP. We also had a TR8 for the drums and we used a TB3 for the acid. James and I both play piano and can both engineer so it was cool to see his techniques as opposed to mine and vice versa. However, James is a very good songwriter and has a great voice, so naturally the lyrics flowed right out of him. I remember we pretty much finished a rough version in one afternoon and then went out and took a whole bunch of street recordings (which is what we used to make the b-side ‘The Sounds of Illford’). As per usual, along with a million of other songs that I’ve worked on, it resulted in staying on our hard drive for a few years!
In the meantime, I had started a project with Jonny Cruz (also being an artist under the My Favorite Robot Records family) called Discern. We made a song called Course Language which ended up being picked up by Timo for the MFRR Crossing Wires 002 compilation. I had been a huge fan of Timo’s since his remix of Dooms Night (for which i have 5 copies on vinyl because I wore them out that much), so I was buzzing about this. I got to meet Timo one year at BPM festival and we became good friends. He’s literally one of the nicest guys in this industry. Since then we played a few places around the world together including London, Watergate in Berlin and ADE.
Then last year, James called me and said he randomly played the Illuminated Cabaret project to Timo while he was visiting him in Germany and Timo wanted to sign it to Rockets and Ponies. Basically, then we collaborated online, I would do something and send it to him, and then he worked on it and sent it back to me until we had both tracks ready!
So, I know you guys and Timo go back a long way, and I remember around the 1995-98 mark when I first started hearing German producers/dj’s in house/techno that there was so much talent there and the music was really unique and interesting. It seemed like all of a sudden a whole bunch of people in Germany just exploded out of nowhere.
Did you guys and Timo influence each others sound? Or was it a case that all the German artists like yourselves were just making music individually which coincidentally resonated with the worldwide underground music scene?
Tiefschwarz: The music world we’re in seems to be a small world – we know Nitin and Jonny Cruz as well (Nitin is from toronto and so is my wifes family, haha) – both are really nice guys and i’m sure it s a lot of fun to work with them. And we didn’t know that you did a collaboration with My Favorite Robot – such a cool project!!
Timo and us don’t have such a close relationship but we always respected his work and that he’s such a humble man with no pretentious attitude at all. Just a very grounded and down to earth guy, and of course we do like his music a lot!
And you’re right – there is quite some talent out there in Germany – amazing producers and dj’s all over the country – and not only in Berlin (thats just where they all end up playing, haha), you name it: Roman Flügel, Sven Väth, Dj Koze, the Keinemusic crew, Gerd Janson, Ben Klock, Dixon, Amê, Ruede Hagelstein, Rødhad, Marcel Dettmann, Ricardo Villalobos, Michael Mayer, Superpitcher, Mathias Kaden, Konstantin, Ellen Alien, Martin Buttrich, Lawrence, Solomon just to name a few – the list could be continued and continued..!
The internet and the digitization has a huge impact on the international electronic music scene and how fast it is growing but most of the guys we named are sucessfully around since the 90’s (even pre-internet and just vinyl) and it just shows how strong, diverse and vibrant the German scene was and still is. Generaly speaking it’s just amazing to see how strongly good quality electronic music is taking over the dancing world..! and not only from Germany – from all over the world..!!
Again – thank you guys so much for asking us about doing the remix for you and we hope to meet you one day in person in LA to go on this hike together ;)
Silky: Yes, I’ve heard of a few of those artists you mentioned! ;) haha. On behalf of James and I, we both thank you guys for being on board with this project and delivering an excellent remix! One day hopefully, we can return the favour, however until then I look forward to meeting you guys on a hike or at In and Out!
“Illuminated Cabaret” is available 2 March on Rockets & Ponies